In 2008, using grant money from the Jean Houston Foundation, MariElena Granger taught a dynamic three-day workshop to thirty enthusiastic adult men and women in Zambia. She reports: “There were school teachers, people from the community, youths, an HIV counselor, and the director of Bumi Bwesu Youth Centre, which literally translates to "Our Health.” The students were a courageous, intelligent, well-educated, and sophisticated group who have lived through bleak times in Zambia.”
By 2010, the students were ready for the eight-day “Training of Teachers” course. Seven of them graduated as teachers and thirteen as assistant teachers. MariElena explains, “I am so excited that, after three years, the outreach teaching has begun. In February of 2011, four basic outreach classes were taught to eighty students - taught to Zambians by Zambians.”
Growth of Social Artistry
In May of 2011, there will be a conference for all of the teachers and assistant teachers to discuss the first outreach classes they taught and how to proceed in the future. The goal is that by the end of 2011 the basic course will have been taught to 240 students, with ten new teachers certified and twenty-five new assistants setting out on their road to certification. MariElena passionately states, "It is our goal that in three years from now, 1,000 people will have been trained in the practices and usefulness of Social Artistry in Zambia."
The Social Artistry™- Human Capacities course develops imagination, self-esteem, health awareness and self-perception, thus fostering empowerment. It seeks to bring about new ways of thinking and shift the students' perspective to aid in finding new solutions to existing problems. Many of the graduates have received promotions and raises, and those who were previously unemployed now have jobs. Unilaterally, they see a greater vision for themselves. One of the new teachers states that he is now better able to grow maize, potatoes and cassavas, and another has purchased land to start an orphanage.
Women Helping Women
In 2006, MariElena was one of four women traveling through northern Zambia. After becoming cognizant of the immediate dire necessity in the Nchelenge district, they established Give A Jumpstart, a non-profit organization of women dedicated to helping women and children in Africa improve their living conditions by giving them an interest-free loan or a one-time donation to start their own business.
The Social Artistry courses have become a cornerstone in the work in Zambia. By taking the Social Artistry courses before being allocated the grants/micro loans, the participants’ grant and micro loan applications are much more innovative, broad, and encompassing. There are now 41 women's groups that have been funded, servicing over 300 women for endeavors ranging from knitting and sewing groups to farming projects, beekeeping, broom making, solar oven baking and soybean cultivation. Pretty fabulous, they say, especially in Africa where sometimes the obstacles for completion are immense.
MariElena states “We believe a healthy dose of self-interest is the best guarantee of success. We see ourselves as women investors investing in women. Our goal is to help local women establish a source of income and to become self-sufficient.” Give a Jumpstart also serves to improve educational opportunities for children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS by giving women and schools a start—a jumpstart—in initiating their own businesses.
How You Can Help
Make your donation by check to Jean Houston Foundation and send to P.O. Box 3330, Ashland, OR 97520 earmarked for Zambia Project. All the money will go directly to this endeavor. Or if you prefer giving online, CLICK HERE and earmark your gift for Zambia Project.
Deep listening is practiced under African skies as a small group of men and women describe the heroes that inspire them. They feel empowered to make bold choices for their futures.
Mr. Gershon, an HIV counselor, lives in a mud hut. He is obviously exhilarated by his graduation hat. The student’s enthusiasm for Mind Mapping made it very clear that they were starved for something tactile, so they made graduation hats.
When women take the Social Artistry courses before being allocated grants/micro loans, their grant and micro loan applications are much more innovative, broad, and encompassing.